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Year B, Ordinary 19 (Proper 14, Pentecost +12), 2018 – Long Day’s Journey into Night

August 9, 2018 / Molly Douthett / Ordinary Time

Hey everyone! David is on the long form version of his sabbatical so I’m on my own this week. I’m feeling a bit apprehensive about this; for two and a half years we split the division of labor on this project. I’m responsible for show notes and David is responsible for editing the audio. I now think he has the larger share of the work! You will hear his voice at the beginning and the end of the audio clip and that tips you off to the fact that some of the show is pre-recorded. David’s actual voice may be back on the show in the coming weeks – even while he’s away – as he has taken recording equipment with him for other purposes. If I get a file from him, it will be added to future shows. He is entirely away this week as he is on retreat. 

I was not entirely certain I would find anything for this week’s passage, frankly. I went looking for our past encounters with this story and found this one: Year C, Ordinary 12, 2016 (plus the worksheet). Not a lot to work with even with the inclusion of the wind, fire, and earthquake! But God is gracious and once I stopped fretting and started listening, many options presented themselves. The overall feeling of this passage is despair, I think. Elijah has just struck a mighty blow for YHWH by defeating 450 priests of Ba’al – but this does nothing to put a halt to Jezebel’s enmity. If anything, it flamed it even hotter. I think Elijah was surprised by this; I think he thought this would defeat his nemesis and when it did not, he ran. I can empathize with this and while I’ve never sat under a broom tree and asked for God to take my life, I have known the shock of thinking one thing was certain to happen and the exact opposite came into being. It’s a hard thing to endure much less come back from. 


This week’s text is:


1 Kings 19:4-8 [02:03]

The passage begins with Elijah already beating a retreat. He’s gone a day’s journey into the wilderness and stops under a broom tree. He sleeps and is awakened by an angel offering him bread and water. For WORD smart, I found an article about dinner bells – a method of calling people to come and eat who are not within voice range. The author of the article to which I linked heard a story about a different use for the clanging bell. What ways do you know to call people to dinner? Elijah’s despair has some connections to literature, as well. (The title of the post is Eugene O’Neill‘s last produced play.)

In EYE smart, I found some classical paintings of angels waking the prophet. I also came across an article that looked at the real world journey of 40 days and 40 nights from Beersheba (which influenced PEOPLE smart). Looking at a map of the region, walking from Be’er Sheva to Jabal Mousa would take 87 hours and range from 8 meters to 1,673 meters in altitude. For some of us, that *would* take 40 days and nights! I wondered if Elijah may have dreamed the angels and found an article about neural pathways in the brain while in REM sleep for MATH smart. 

Even though he had already covered a great distance, Elijah was going to be traveling further, so the angel made certain he had enough fuel for the trip. In BODY smart, I have two links to the way food benefits our bodies. Is your congregation involved in ministries to alleviate hunger in your community? This might tie in to that very well. I came across some verse for MUSIC smart as I was being distracted in my search for WORD smart ideas. TVTropes suggested the chorus to the song “In the End” by Linkin Park and a famous quote from Macbeth (links below).

I revisited the broom tree (including the first link below) for NATURE smart and wondered if there are any native plants that might stand in for it from your local fauna. Based on the geography of the southern Israel and The Negev, this plant may have been the best opportunity for Elijah’s shelter. After I finished recording the podcast, I found an interesting article on self-defeating behavior that I added to PEOPLE smart as an illustration. I still think the long journey was God’s way of transforming Elijah – we don’t know how until later in his story. For SELF smart, explore the way mental exhaustion and or PTSD may play into his behavior. This is also the doorway through which many of us may step into his world and share his experience.



Image Credit: Photo by Jakub Gorajek on Unsplash

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